Almushref Looking To Break Through At Abu Dhabi Sunday

Racing at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday is highlighted by the finale and only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 1600m handicap. The contest has attracted the maximum allowed field of 14, including Almushref, who will be having his third local outing, but first on turf since joining Musabbeh Al Mheiri.

Owned by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and to be ridden by retained jockey Jim Crowley, the 4-year-old gelded son of Smart Strike registered his sole victory in a 2100m maiden last July when trained in France by Freddy Head. He has finished second on both local outings to date (over 1800m then 1600m at Jebel Ali), so connections are hoping he can make it third-time-lucky in the UAE.

“We hope the switch to turf will suit him,” Al Mheiri said. “He has run very well on both Jebel Ali outings and this looks a good opportunity to try him at Abu Dhabi. Hopefully he can run a big race in what looks a very competitive contest.”

Having served a one-year ban, Salem bin Ghadayer is saddling his first runners of the campaign this weekend and has two in this with Xavier Ziani aboard Rich and Famous with Royston Ffrench seemingly opting to partner Odyssa. The latter is a 4-year-old Kodiac filly owned by Ahmad Ghalita Almheiri. She won twice in Britain when trained by Richard Hughes and ran well on her local debut, over Sunday’s 1600m course and distance, before not handling conditions at Jebel Ali on her only subsequent start.

Ffrench said: “I rode her at Abu Dhabi five weeks ago when she ran very well, so hopefully returning to turf is in her favour, but it does look a tough race.”

Meanwhile, Rich and Famous, a 5-year-old Bernardini gelding, has shown little in seven outings during his maiden UAE campaign, but the first six were on dirt, the most recent in a strong 1200m Meydan turf handicap last Saturday.

For Ahmad Bintooq, Ahmad bin Harmash saddles both Strong Challenge, seemingly the choice of Connor Beasley, but yet to win locally after ten attempts, as well as Rua Augusta, reunited with Harry Bentley, aboard for his sole victory over 1600m on the Meydan turf in January.

Satish Seemar is responsible for three of the field with Richard Mullen choosing to ride Galesburg, Tadhg O’Shea opting for King’s Shadow and Jose Santiago aboard third runner Harcourt Street. With the yard enjoying a fantastic season, all three look capable of running well, along with Night Circus, a good course and distance third five weeks ago. The mount of Fabrice Veron, he is trained by Ismail Mohammed for Sultan Ali.

The best of the Purebred Arabian action is a 2200m handicap for which 11 have been declared, but only few would appear to hold realistic claims at the weights which are headed by Waadh. Mullen will be sporting the silks of Yas Horse Racing Management aboard the 6-year-old, trained by Jean de Roualle, who was a course and distance second on his latest start, his third locally, after two lifeless efforts on the Al Ain dirt where he is trained.

Foaad, to be saddled by Doug Watson for Sheikh Hamdan, seemingly heads the dangers having bounced back to winning ways last time in a handicap over 1800m at Al Ain. That was actually just a second career victory for the 6-year-old, but perhaps significantly, the first was achieved in a decent conditions race at Newbury in July 2016 over 2000m.

Eric Lemartinel saddled four winners for His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Al Ain last Friday, so Bainoona must be respected, alongside AF La’Asae who sports the black and silver silks of Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda with O’Shea in the saddle for Ernst Oertel.

Last Sunday’s scheduled Abu Dhabi meeting was cancelled with the racecourse surface deemed unfit for racing.